Day 1: New York City - Arrival
To begin, I was the idiot who overslept. Once this little travesty was overcome, we found ourselves on the way to Indy. From here on out it was relatively uneventful, until flying into New York. The view of Manhattan was curious, as it was something very familiar: Darkwing Duck, Gotham City, et cetera. Our media is saturated with images of this island’s tip. The Statue of Liberty was somewhat less than imposing, as it is often depicted being; instead, it was small and almost diminutive from our point of view (granted, we were flying over it).
From here, we checked into the hostel relatively quickly, encountered how driving must be to some extent in Manhattan, and then were on our way to Greenwich Village. Much like Berlin and London, my eyes were immediately attracted to the rainbow flags littering the area through Chelsea on into the Village. Was curious to encounter this history and even come across the Stonewall Park, which commemorated the riots (which they termed protests) that took place on Christopher St. almost forty-seven years ago. There were other sites which my neighborhood group had discussed, such as the Washington Square Monument, the house upon which Henry James based his novel, and other such curiosities.
I am tired. It is easy to forget how incredibly much a person can fit into 24 hours if possibly motivated and equipped. Usually, students are reminded of this fact in the middle of finals week, not on the first day of their stereotypically “relaxing” spring break., but this motley crew of 16 English majors and minors were really and truly busy today.
After our 5 am call to the chapel steps, flight, landing, check-in, and walk down to Greenwich, we finally got a chance to fill our stomachs at our choice of two restaurants. One served basic American fare of burgers and such, while the other, brilliantly named Caliente, was a Mexican joint. The luckier of the group members wandered into Caliente and found themselves with a menu sporting six of the most welcome words a cold, wind-whipped Wabash student can read: “Unlimited Screwdrivers with any Lunch Entree.” Things just kept looking up.
Lunch finished around 1:45 pm and a considerably warmer, more cheerful group walked out of the two restaurants for the walk back up to our hostel in Chelsea. Upon our arrival, we were given our first few free hours in the city and told to report back as a group at 5 pm. Smaller groups quickly formed and students took off in every different direction. Denis, Donald Claxon, Sterling Carter, and I headed off for The Strand, a famous, and giant, used bookstore where I spent an hour perusing used film biographies, screenplays, anthologies, and textbooks. Other groups took off to Madison Square Gardens, Times Square, and the like.
At 5 pm we reconvened and headed for our first group trip to the subway that would take us back down into the Village. One student tried to get himself stuck on the wrong side of the entrance gates but managed to squeeze himself into a turnstile along with one of his classmates. Once we got back to Greenwich, the hungry group ambled into the infamous John’s Pizzeria. As we walked in the door we saw they had set up tables end-to-end through the center of the restaurant to accommodate our 18-member party. Literally seated at the center of the restaurant, we all sat down and ate. And we ate well… very well. John’s Pizzeria isn’t famous for its name; they make great pizza. The six of us sitting at my table finished off three large, delicious pizza pies. At the end of the meal, Professor Rosenberg informed the group that it was Professor Abbott’s birthday, and soon 17 Wabash students filled the restaurant with a particularly grumbly, heartfelt but decidedly non-melodic rendition of “Happy Birthday.”
As we left the restaurant for our next stop, The Angelika, we passed more than 10 people standing in the cold out in front of the restaurant waiting to take our places in John’s. After some confusion with the actual time and the film start times (entirely my fault), we reached the movie theater called The Angelika with an hour to spare. In order to pass the time, a few of us managed to wander our way into a Haagen-Daaz. Again, we split into smaller groups and chose our own filmic paths for the next several hours. Five of us chose The Squid and the Whale, which was an appropriate pick since it was set in NYC in the 1980s. After the film, we started walking back towards our hostel and managed to fall into our final eatery of the day, a combo cafe/pastry-shop. I finished the night drinking a chai latte, eating half a piece of cheesecake, and discussing films. A wonderful ending to a very full day. Tomorrow, it starts all over again at 8 am.